Sob story from The Local: ‘Meet northern Sweden’s frozen Roma beggars’

Culai Ciurar has been begging in Sweden for three months. Photo: The Local

Roma beggars became a common sight in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö in 2014. Now, growing numbers are making their way to the country’s most northerly city Umeå, where temperatures regularly drop below -10C in winter. The Local’s Editor Maddy Savage went to meet some of them.

The ice is slippery on the petrol station forecourt where half a dozen caravans are lined up on a tiny patch of grass next to a forest.

Inside one of them, Culai Ciurar, who is 23 and from Romania, is cooking lunch.

“It’s good here in Sweden, I like it,” he says in broken English as potatoes bubble in his pan – the only ingredient in his midday meal.

“The weather is like Romania, so it’s not so cold for us,” he insists.

According to Umeå City Council, around 70 Roma beggars like Ciurar arrived in the region in 2014, which is home to around 118,000 people. As EU migrants from Romania, they can easily travel to Sweden as EU tourists under the right to Freedom of Movement, without the need for a visa or a work permit.

Ciurar says he makes between 100 and 200 kronor a day (up to $25) from asking for money on the streets…

Sympathy level = zero. Romania is a lot warmer than Sweden. He can go back anytime.